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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

PATS' LESCHYSHYN SCORES IN TOP PROSPECTS GAME

QUEBEC - There weren't a lot smiles seen in Quebec City a day after a horrific shooting at a local mosque, but players in the Canadian Top Prospects game were able to put it aside for a couple of hours and play some firewagon hockey on Monday night.

Gabe Vilardi scored on his Windsor Spitfires teammate Michael DiPietro to break a tie and help Team Cherry to a 7-5 victory over Team Orr before 9,707 fans at the Centre Videotron in the annual game featuring the best prospects for the NHL draft in June.

Team Cherry captain Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, ranked first for the NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting, had two assists while his Team Orr and Halifax Mooseheads counterpart Nico Hischier, ranked second, was dazzling while amassing a goal and two helpers.

A minute of silence was held before the opening faceoff and the message "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families'' was displayed on the scoreboard, lending a sombre note to the game between 17- and 18-year-olds after the shooting on Sunday night that left six dead and several injured.

"It was pretty scary for the team because it was two blocks away from our hotel, so we were just getting back from dinner when it happened,'' said Patrick. "We were put in lockdown in our rooms.

"That's something you never want to see happen, but I thought the (Canadian Hockey League) did a great job of protecting the players. We didn't have anything to worry about."

They were able to set it all aside once the puck was dropped.

Isaac Ratchiffe of the Guelph Storm, Antoine Morand of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, MacKenzie Entwistle of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Maxime Comtois of the Victoriaville Tigres and Owen Tippett of the Missisauga Steelheads also scored for Team Cherry. Jake Leschyshyn of the Regina Pats added an empty-net goal.

Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks had three assists and was named Team Cherry's player of the game.

Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67's, Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans, Kailer Yamamoto of the Spokane Chiefs and Stelio Mattheos had the other goals for Team Orr.

Cherry outshot Orr 36-35.

The game featured 40 of the top players eligible for the NHL draft in June from the three Canadian major junior leagues.

(CP)

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